Shauna, author of the fine memoir Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, writes a post about not being able to get pregnant and the pain it has caused her. She writes here of some raw emotions, and I think we could have a valuable conversation about responses to pregnancy:
What are your experiences of this? Have you been through this? And for you who have chosen not to have children, how do you respond to this?
Something extraordinary happened to me today.
I found out a dear friend is pregnant. That’s not extraordinary. Everyone I know is pregnant. You think I’m exaggerating, but I have 17 pregnant friends, and 9 friends with babies born since September. Not just Facebook friends or acquaintances, either—real see-them-at-church, go-to-their-showers, send-them-baby-blankets friends.
It’s an epidemic, and I sometimes think I might be at the center of it—like if you’re my friend, you’re 883,584 times more likely to get pregnant than if you’re not. I’m like an incredibly successful fertility drug. My friend Kelly used to say that if you want to get married, you should be his roommate, because for a couple years everyone who moved in with him promptly met someone, fell in love, moved out, and got married. That’s how I am with pregnancies, I think. Trying to conceive? I’m your ticket. It works for you…but it doesn’t seem to be working for me.
Henry will be five this year, and since his first birthday, we’ve been trying to have another baby: seeing doctors, praying, longing. I’ve miscarried twice. After miscarrying twins last February I took a time out to train for the marathon, knowing on some sludgy, inarticulate level that I couldn’t try any more for a while, that my heart couldn’t bear any more.
The marathon was several months ago. Nothing to report. And in the meantime, approximately every woman I know between twenty and forty has announced a pregnancy….
It could all change again next month—I know that. I’ve been around this block for years now: easier and harder, more complicated and less. I’m all serene and happy right now but I could be back to throwing glassware next month. This morning, though, I’ll take what I can get.
The word that came to my mind this morning was ENOUGH.
Enough: I don’t want to live like that anymore. And enough: I have enough. I have more than I need, more than I could ask for. I have a son who delights me every single day. A husband I adore. A family that walks with me well and friends that make the world feel rich. I do work I care about—no small thing.
It’s not wrong to want another baby…but there’s a fine line in there, and I feel I’ve crossed it a few times this winter, and crossed over into that terrible territory where you can’t be happy unless you have just that thing you want, no matter what else you have. Speaking of children, that’s how they are–demanding, myopic, only able to focus on what they need in that moment. That’s not how I want to live. That’s not who I want to be.